IDF 2014: Western Digital announces new Ae HDD series for archival / cold storage

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | September 9, 2014 - 01:51 PM |
Tagged: WDC< Western Digital, WD, idf 2014, idf, hdd, Cold, Archival, Ae

We talked about helium filled, shingled HDD's from HGST earlier today. Helium may give you reduced power demands, but at the added expensive of hermetically sealed enclosures over conventional HDD's. Shingling may give added capacity, but at the expense of being forced into specific writing methods. Now we know Western Digital's angle into archival / cold storage:

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..so instead of going with higher cost newer technologies, WD is taking their consumer products and making them more robust. They are also getting rid of the conventional thinking of capacity increments and are moving to 100GB increments. The idea is that once a large company or distributor has qualified a specific HDD model on their hardware, that model will stick around for a while, but be continued at an increased capacity as platter density yields increase over time. WD has also told me that capacities may even be mixed an matched within a 20-box of drives, so long as the average capacity matches the box label. This works in the field of archival / cold storage for a few reasons:

  • Archival storage systems generally do not use conventional RAID (where an entire array of matching capacity disks are spinning simultaneously). Drives are spun up and written to individually, or spun up individually to service the occasional read request. This saves power overall, and it also means the individual drives can vary in capacity with no ill effects.
  • Allowing for variable capacity binning helps WD ship more usable platters/drives overall (i.e. not rejecting drives that can't meet 6TB). This should drive overall costs down.
  • Increasing capacity by only a few hundred GB per drive turns into *huge* differences in cost when you scale that difference up to the number of drives you would need to handle a very large total capacity (i.e. Exabytes).

So the idea here is that WD is choosing to stick with what they do best, which they can potentially do for even cheaper than their consumer products. That said, this is really meant for enterprise use and not as a way for a home power user to save a few bucks on a half-dozen drives for their home NAS. You really need an infrastructure in place that can handle variable capacity drives seamlessly. While these drives do not employ SMR to get greater capacity, that may work out as a bonus, as writes can be performed in a way that all systems are currently compatible with (even though I suspect they will be tuned more for sequential write workloads).

Here's an illustration of this difference:

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The 'old' method meant that drives on the left half of the above bell curve would have to be sold as 5TB units.

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With the 'new' method, drives can be sold based on a spec closer to their actual capacity yield. For a given model, shipping capacities would increase as time goes on (top to bottom of the above graphic).

To further clarify what is meant by the term 'cold storage' - the data itself is cold, as in rarely if ever accessed:

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Examples of this would be Facebook posts / images from months or years ago. That data may be rarely touched, but it needs to be accessible enough to be browsed to via the internet. The few second archival HDD spinup can handle this sort of thing, while a tape system would take far too long and would likely timeout that data request.

WD's Ae press blast after the break.

IDF 2014: HGST announces 3.2TB NVMe SSDs, shingled 10TB HDDs

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | September 9, 2014 - 11:00 AM |
Tagged: ssd, SMR, pcie, NVMe, idf 2014, idf, hgst, hdd, 10TB

It's the first day of IDF, so it's only natural that we see a bunch of non-IDF news start pouring out :). I'll kick them off with a few announcements from HGST. First item up is their new SN100 line of PCIe SSDs:

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These are NVMe capable PCIe SSDs, available from 800GB to 3.2TB capacities and in (PCI-based - not SATA) 2.5" as well as half-height PCIe cards.

Next up is an expansion of their HelioSeal (Helium filled) drive line:

10TB_Market_applications_HR.jpg

Through the use of Shingled Magnetic Recording (SMR), HGST can make an even bigger improvement in storage densities. This does not come completely free, as due to the way SMR writes to the disk, it is primarily meant to be a sequential write / random access read storage device. Picture roofing shingles, but for hard drives. The tracks are slightly overlapped as they are written to disk. This increases density greatly, but writting to the middle of a shingled section is not possible without potentially overwriting two shingled tracks simultaneously. Think of it as CD-RW writing, but for hard disks. This tech is primarily geared towards 'cold storage', or data that is not actively being written. Think archival data. The ability to still read that data randomly and on demand makes these drives more appealing than retrieving that same data from tape-based archival methods.

Further details on the above releases is scarce at present, but we will keep you posted on further details as they develop.

Full press blast for the SN100 after the break.

Source: HGST
Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Western Digital

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Introduction:

Today I'm going to talk to you about something you might not have thought you needed, but once you realize what this new device can do, you might just want one. Imagine a Western Digital My Cloud, but only smaller, battery powered, and wireless. You could fill it with a bunch of movies, music, and other media for something like an upcoming family road trip. If said device could create its own wireless hotspot, the kids could connect to it via their tablets or other portable devices and watch their movie of choice during the drive. Once you are at your destination and snapping a bunch of photos, it would also be handy if this imaginary device could also mount SD cards for sharing recently taken photos with others on your trip. A bonus might be the ability to store a back-up of those SD cards as they become full, or maybe even empty them for folks without a lot of SD capacity available. As a final bonus, make all of this work in such a way that you could pull off an entire trip with *only* mobile devices and tablets - *without* a PC or a Mac. Think all of that can happen? It can now!:

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Behold the WD My Passport Wireless!

Read on for our full review!

Seagate Ships World’s First 8TB Hard Drives

Subject: Storage | August 26, 2014 - 10:18 AM |
Tagged: Seagate, hdd, 8TB, Cleversafe

Sometime in the next quarter you will be able to pick up a 3.5" Seagate HDD with 8TB of storage on it.  These are aimed at data centres so they will have reduced power usage and are likely to have an impressive warranty attached, though that along with the high storage density will cost you a bit to purchase.  They do not offer much in the way of specifics, no platter count or cache size are listed in the PR but you can expect to find out more about them in the very near future. 

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CUPERTINO, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Seagate Technology plc (NASDAQ:STX), a world leader in storage solutions, today announced it is shipping the world’s first 8TB hard disk drive. An important step forward in storage, the 8TB hard disk drive provides scale-out data infrastructures with supersized-capacity, energy-efficiency and the lowest total cost of ownership (TCO) in the industry for cloud content, object storage and back-up disaster recovery storage.

“As our world becomes more mobile, the number of devices we use to create and consume data is driving an explosive growth in unstructured data. This places increased pressure on cloud builders to look for innovative ways to build cost-effective, high capacity storage for both private and cloud-based data centers,” said Scott Horn, Seagate vice president of marketing. “Seagate is poised to address this challenge by offering the world’s first 8TB HDD, a ground-breaking new solution for meeting the increased capacities needed to support the demand for high capacity storage in a world bursting with digital creation, consumption and long-term storage.”

A cornerstone for growing capacities in multiple applications, the 8TB hard drive delivers bulk data storage solutions for online content storage providing customers with the highest capacity density needed to address an ever increasing amount of unstructured data in an industry-standard 3.5-inch HDD. Providing up to 8TB in a single drive slot, the drive delivers maximum rack density, within an existing footprint, for the most efficient data center floor space usage possible.

“Public and private data centers are grappling with efficiently storing massive amounts of unstructured digital content,” said John Rydning, IDC’s research vice president for hard disk drives. “Seagate’s new 8TB HDD provides IT managers with a new option for improving storage density in the data center, thus helping them to tackle one of the largest and fastest growing data categories within enterprise storage economically.”

The 8TB hard disk drive increases system capacity using fewer components for increased system and staffing efficiencies while lowering power costs. With its low operating power consumption, the drive reliably conserves energy thereby reducing overall operating costs. Helping customers economically store data, it boasts the best Watts/GB for enterprise bulk data storage in the industry.

“Cleversafe is excited to once again partner with Seagate to deliver to our customers what is truly an innovative storage solution. Delivering absolute lowest cost/TB along with the performance and reliability required for massive scale applications, the new 8TB hard disk drive is ideal for meeting the needs of our enterprise and service provider customers who demand optimized hardware and the cost structure needed for massive scale out,” said Tom Shirley, senior vice president of research and development, Cleversafe.

Outfitted with enterprise-class reliability and support for archive workloads, it features multi-drive RV tolerance for consistent enterprise-class performance in high density environments. The drive also incorporates a proven SATA 6Gb/s interface for cost-effective, easy system integration in both private and public data centers.

Source: Seagate

Western Digital launches My Passport Metal Edition. 10th Anniversary Edition coming soon.

Subject: Storage | August 19, 2014 - 11:04 AM |
Tagged: western digital, portable, my passport, hdd

It's the 10th anniversary of Western Digital's My Passport line. To celebrate the occasion, they have launched an updated series:

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The My Passport Ultra is available in 1TB and 2TB capacities, in both 'Metal' and 'Anniversary' Editions. The aluminum enclosures have an old-school radio-dial style finish. Both editions communicate over USB 3.0. While the Anniversary model comes out in September, the Metal Edition is now shipping at $89 for 1TB and $139 for 2TB.

Full press blast after the break:

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Western Digital
Tagged: wdc, WD, Red Pro, red, hdd, 6tb, 4TB

Introduction and Specs

Introduction:

*** NOTE ***

In the preparation for this review, we noted abnormal behavior with the 6TB Red. After coordination with Western Digital, they replicated our results and will be issuing a firmware to correct the issue. We are publishing this piece as-is, with caveats added as appropriate. We will revisit this piece with an additional update once we have retested the 6TB Red on the updated firmware / configuration. More information / detail is available in our related news post on this matter.

*** END NOTE ***

Last year we covered the benefits of TLER enabled drives, and the potential for drive errors in a RAID can lead to the potential loss of entire arrays. Western Digital solved this problem by their introduction of the WD Red series. That series was since incrementally updated to include a 4TB capacity, and other Western Digital lines were also scaled up to 4TB capacities.

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This week the Red line was updated to include both 5TB and 6TB models, sporting 1.2TB per platter. Performance is expected to be slightly improved over the older / smaller capacities of the Red. The upgraded line will use an improved 'NASware 3.0' firmware, which makes improvements to Western Digital's software based vibration compensation. These improvements mean WD can now support up to 8 Reds in a single chassis (up from 5 with NASware 2.0).

Also announced was the new Red Pro line, available in capacities up to 4TB. The Red Pro is just as it sounds - a 'Pro' version of the Red. This model borrows more features from WD's enterprise line, making it very similar to an SE series HDD. Imagine a Red, but at 7200RPM and more aggressive seek times. The Red Pro also borrows the enterprise-grade 5-year warranty and is supported in chassis up to 16 bays, thanks to built-in hardware vibration compensation. When all is said and done, the Red Pro is basically a WD SE with firmware tweaked for NAS workloads.

As a recap of what can potentially happen if you have a large RAID with 'normal' consumer grade HDD's (and by consumer grade I mean those without any form of Time Limited Error Recovery, or TLER for short):

  • Array starts off operating as normal, but drive 3 has a bad sector that cropped up a few months back. This has gone unnoticed because the bad sector was part of a rarely accessed file.
  • During operation, drive 1 encounters a new bad sector.
  • Since drive 1 is a consumer drive it goes into a retry loop, repeatedly attempting to read and correct the bad sector.
  • The RAID controller exceeds its timeout threshold waiting on drive 1 and marks it offline.
  • Array is now in degraded status with drive 1 marked as failed.
  • User replaces drive 1. RAID controller initiates rebuild using parity data from the other drives.
  • During rebuild, RAID controller encounters the bad sector on drive 3.
  • Since drive 3 is a consumer drive it goes into a retry loop, repeatedly attempting to read and correct the bad sector.
  • The RAID controller exceeds its timeout threshold waiting on drive 3 and marks it offline.
  • Rebuild fails.
  • Blamo, your data is now (mostly) inaccessible.

I went into much further detail on this back in the intro to the WD 3TB Red piece, but the short of it is that you absolutely should use a HDD intended for RAID when building one.

Continue reading our review of the new WD 6TB Red and 4TB Red Pro!!

Seagate's 6TB HDD, bigger but pricey

Subject: Storage | July 15, 2014 - 03:42 PM |
Tagged: hdd, Seagate, enterprise, 6tb, sata

For many users the purchase of a 6TB SSD is out of their price range and for many businesses who need long term storage the return on investment simply doesn't justify an SSD.  In some cases tape backup is sufficient but not always which is where products like Seagate's 6TB Enterprise drive excel, a 7200 RPM with an impressive 216MB/s stated sustained transfer rate.  It comes with a 5 year warranty and is rated at 550TB per year which means that even if it is heavily used you should not expect failure rates to be high.  It does cost a bit at $480 which makes the SAS 4TB model a bit more attractive but when your data needs its space it is hard to find a larger drive.  Check out the benchmarks at Overclockers Club.

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"Compared to your standard consumer level 3TB drive this thing is double the capacity and brings home the money with the performance. To have capacity and performance at the same time is the golden ticket. Although this drive has the added cost of being an enterprise drive, having dealt with some enterprise drives I can say it is well worth it if longevity and long up time is what you are looking for.”

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Computex 2014: WD Shows SATA Express-based PCIe HDD

Subject: General Tech, Storage, Shows and Expos | June 3, 2014 - 12:37 AM |
Tagged: computex, computex 2014, WD, ssd, pcie, SATA Express, hdd

SATA Express is an interface to either connect a hard drive to PCIe lanes, or up to two drives via SATA. Obviously, PCIe bandwidth over a cable connection is the real draw. To use the full speed, however, the drive needs to be able to communicate over PCIe. Currently, the standard uses two PCI Express 2.0 lanes (1 GB/s).

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Now that Z97 and H97 have launched, WD is set to show off the technology at Computex. The above image is apparently of a dual-drive product, containing 4TB of rotating media and 128GB of SSD memory. I am immediately reminded of the Western Digital Black2 dual drive which Allyn reviewed last November. That product crammed a 120GB SSD into a 2.5" 1TB HDD, which appeared to the system as two separate drives. The drive has "Technology Demonstration" written in red font right on it, but it could be a good representation of what the company is thinking about.

WD also asserts that their prototype uses standard AHCI drivers, for OS compatibility.

If you want to see this product in action, then -- well -- you kind-of need to be at Computex. At some point, you might be able to see it in your own PC. When? How much? No pricing and availability, again, because it is a tech demo.

Source: WD

When size trumps speed; the WD Black 4TB HDD

Subject: Storage | February 17, 2014 - 12:35 PM |
Tagged: western digital, Black, 4TB, hdd

There are still many times when having a huge amount of storage at a low price is more important than having the speed of an SSD and the Western Digitial Black family of drives is perfect for those scenarios.  This 7200RPM HDD has five 800GB platters and a 64MB cache in the 4TB model TechARP reviewed though you can get smaller models if you so desire.  While the drive will not compete against and SSD you can see in the review that this drive tops the other platter based models performance by a noticeable margin.  If you need a large amount of space but can't pay around $1.00/GB then don't forget that HDDs are also still evolving.

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"The new-generation Western Digital Black family differs from the previous generation by its use of Advanced Format Technology, which allows for greater capacity and throughput. The new Western Digital Black family now consists of five models, which differ only in their storage capacities."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Source: TechARP

Toshiba Goes up to 5TB with Enterprise 3.5-inch HDDs

Subject: General Tech, Storage | February 16, 2014 - 12:37 AM |
Tagged: toshiba, hdd, 5TB

We may see an internal hard drive with up to 5TB of storage from Toshiba. This is an enterprise SKU but, either way, it is a step beyond the tyranny of 3TB models dotted with 4TB options at a higher price per gigabyte. For example, Newegg.com lists a 3TB Caviar Green at $114 with the 4TB version going for $164.

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You might just be, Toshiba. You might just be.

The push to 3TB was fairly difficult, due mostly to software limitations in addressing more than about 2.2TB per drive. 3TB was uncommon for internal storage, although external USB drives avoided the issue. And then came the flood. Back in 2011, disastrous flooding exploded prices of hard drives. The world was cut to a fraction of its production. With standard 2TB drives over doubling in price, the industry took forever to return. Ryan, at the time (October 2011), noted that the days of 2TB for $89 would be gone for a while; that is the exact price which Newegg lists, today. Even worse, we basically did not see 4TB until almost 2013.

It is a good step, though. I hope this reaches other companies and the consumer space in reasonable time. While I am dreaming, just maybe it could push down prices on existing models? I am looking at you, 4TB disks.

Toshiba's MG04 series drives will be available in both SAS and SATA models with sizes up to 5TB. Samples will begin to ship this month.

Source: Toshiba